Ducks Fight Hard in a 5-3 Loss to Avoid Backing into Playoffs

Protect the puck, Protect the puck, Protect the puck - Jeff Gross

It wasn't an ideal result, but it was far from a subpar performance. The Ducks must now prepare for their number one rival in the first round of the playoffs.

Final Score: Coyotes 5, Ducks 3

This time it was the youth up that was scratched as Etem, Beleskey, and Staubitz joined Sbisa in the press box, as well as the 8 million people the Ducks just called up from Norfolk. It both did and did not matter as the Ducks lost but it didn't affect them anyway. It was a fairly straight forward game as the Ducks threw a ton of frozen vulcanized rubber at Jason LaBarbera only to be thwarted.

First Period Recap:

It was a busy first period for a buzzing Maroon-Bonino-Selanne line. Selanne looked like his old self for this entire game and it was nice to see the band back together. The Ducks wouldn't scratch the score sheet first, as Souray had a centering pass go through him as he was attempting to cut off a passing lane, and Vrbata opened the scoring eight minutes in by slipping a wrister past Fasth. It was that Selanne line that came to the rescue only a few minutes later when Bonino made a great play to save the zone and Maroon slipped a nifty backhand pass to Selanne who tapped it in on the door step. Unfortunately, seven minutes later Beauchemin and Steckel crashed into each other and Chipchura would skate down the right wing side and slip a shot 5-hole on Fasth from a pretty bad angle.

Ducks carried the play for most of the period and The Big Line managed to get scoring chances as well. Overall the Ducks got 17 shots on LaBarbera while Phoenix directed ten toward Fasth.

Second Period Recap:

The Ducks started the period on the PP and it only took half a minute for Beauchemin to tie the game up at two. He ripped a slapper from the point through a thoroughly screened LaBarbera. Props go to Corey Perry for blocking out all the day light on that one. The second period was more evenly played as the Coyotes managed to out shoot the Ducks 9-6. Fasth struggled with rebounds tonight and he left a juicy one six minutes after Beauchy tied the score. Vrbata didn't hesitate to swat it out of mid air and into a wide open net. That's all for scoring in the second period.

Third Period Recap:

Hooray, only one more period of regular season hockey! Now if only the Ducks could get their power play a little more organized so that they don't give up odd man rushes when they have the man advantage. If they could also not send three men behind the net to chase the puck and leave Radim Vrbata wide open between the circles to complete his hat trick with a shortie, that would be pretty baller too.

It's ok though, because Getzlaf decided to be Getzlaf and he found Bobby Ryan streaking to the net. It was Bobby's second goal in 17 games...rough. The Ducks continued to harass the Coyotes in an attempt to tie the game, launching 23 shots on goal. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, LaBarbera turned them away for the rest of the game and Antoine Vermette potted the empty netter with two seconds remaining.

**********

The Good: Selanne looked a little like his old self on that line with Maroon and Bonino. They will need Selanne in this postseason if they want to do any damage. Bobby Ryan finally getting the biscuit in the basket is a good sign as well. Hopefully, they can find a stride heading into this series with Detroit, it'll make the Ducks much more fearsome. And who doesn't want to put a whooping on Detroit?

The Bad: Bruce and his staff need to get this PP straightened out. You can't break even in the special teams battle if you want to beat a team like Detroit. Their PP and PK may have been middle of the road, but they have the talent to make you pay when it counts. If the Ducks can't find a way to at least use the PP to keep momentum moving in their direction.

Also, Etem can't get off the 4th line or get PP minutes, but a guy who beat out for a roster spot (a 4th line roster spot that Maroon should be better equipped for) get dropped into it on his second game back from the A? Yeah, no bias there whatsoever.

The Ugly: I guess it was Fasth. The first goal wasn't completely his fault; Vrbata got a quick shot off from in tight. Still, Fasth didn't have very far to move to square to that shot and it beat him short side. After that he gave up a very soft goal through the wickets and a very clumsy rebound for the second and third goals. He just made it a lot easier for Bruce to pick Hiller to start the Detroit series

MVDs:

MVDs all around, except Fasth. He wasn't very good tonight. The Ducks will get a Pacific Division banner for being the best team in their division for half a season. More importantly, they are about to write what might be the final chapter in their greatest rivalry. Yes, GREATEST. [Ed. Note: Seconded! -CK]

You can't have a rival if you don't play that team in the playoffs. Denying a team the Cup is what makes a rivalry, and we've done it to the Red Wings twice! There is no better playoff hockey than Anaheim-Detroit and I would love nothing more than to send them to the Eastern Conference in a very miserable state.

Next Game: Don't know when, but it will be at Honda Center versus those dastardly Detroit Red Wings.

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